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Britain May Need Another Generation Of Nuclear Power Plants

File photo of the UK's Sellafield nuclear plant. Sir David King indicated that if new nuclear power stations were built in Britain, they would be sited near existing nuclear sites, and it would be highly unlikely that fresh "greenfield" sites would be chosen.
London (AFP) May 12, 2005
Britain may need one more generation of nuclear power stations to help meet a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the fight against global warming, the government's top science advisor said Thursday.

The comments by Sir David King in an interview with The Independent will anger green campaigners and raise concerns about a greater potential for nuclear accidents.

"I've never been a great nuclear protagonist, because of concerns of waste and leakage, the cost of disposal, the decommissioning issue and the whole question of public acceptability," King told the newspaper.

But he said the question of climate change and its impacts on human society -- "the most serious problem we're faced with globally this century" -- was so important that the nuclear option had to be re-examined, and that public perception of nuclear's dangers did not necessarily accord with reality.

Fewer people had been killed in nuclear power generation than in other forms of energy production, and modern nuclear stations were much safer than those of the past, noted King, one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's most trusted advisors.

In addition, he indicated that if new nuclear power stations were built in Britain, they would be sited near existing nuclear sites, and it would be highly unlikely that fresh "greenfield" sites would be chosen.

King, a professor of chemistry at Cambridge University, stressed that going nuclear once more would not mean that Britain's commitment to renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power would be in any way weakened.

At the same time, he was worried about an energy gap as the existing range of atomic power stations, which generate almost one quarter of Britain's electricity without producing large amounts of carbon dioxide, are retired.

"That's why it's a live issue. I'd be ducking it if I wasn't to say that. And it may be that the conclusion would be reached that we need another generation of nuclear-fission power stations," said the expert.

King believes that Britain may fail to meet a target of providing 20 percent of Britain's electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020.

The Independent said the government was studying whether or not the energy gap could be filled in a review of its climate change programme, which is expected in the late summer.

King said he did not wish to prejudge the issue, but he warned: "The more ambitious targets that the government has set are beginning to look quite difficult."

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Bush Calls For More Nuclear Power In US
Washington (AFP) Apr 27, 2005
President George W. Bush, wary of the political costs of sky-high US gas prices, called Wednesday for building new nuclear power plants and erecting new oil refineries on closed military bases.

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